Bitcoin Cash ‘Chain-Splitting’ Bug was Detected by Bitcoin Core Dev.

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It has emerged that the “unknown person” who notified Bitcoin ABC developers of a vulnerability in Bitcoin Cash which would have resulted in the unintended split of the altcoin’s network is actually a Bitcoin Core (bitcoin’s primary software implementation) developer.

In a Medium blog post, Corey Fields revealed that he was responsible for anonymously and privately informing Bitcoin ABC of the SIGHASH_BUG in Bitcoin Cash on April 25 this year. According to Fields, who works for MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative, if the vulnerability had been successfully exploited it would have resulted in making bitcoin cash transactions unsafe, thus undermining the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. As CCN reported, the flaw was fixed early the following month.

Bitcoin’s Biggest Threat

In the same post, Fields warned that the greatest threat facing bitcoin is related to software development.

“I’m often asked at conferences and workshops what I consider to be Bitcoin’s greatest challenge in the future. My answer is always the same: avoiding catastrophic software bugs,” he wrote.

According to Fields, the threat posed by software bugs with regards to cryptocurrencies is underestimated and companies in the space must make adequate preparations for these kinds of threats. As an example, Fields narrated the hoops and loops he had to jump through before he could inform Bitcoin ABC of the vulnerability.

Part of the problem was that Bitcoin ABC did not have a responsible disclosure policy. Additionally, Fields could not find publicly available encryption keys for the lead developers at Bitcoin ABC to whom he could send encrypted message informing them of the vulnerability without risking it being viewed by others.

‘People Have Been Killed for Much Less’

According to Fields, it was also important to remain anonymous for personal safety reasons just in case a malicious actor discovered the vulnerability and went on to exploit it before a fix could be rolled out. This would be problematic as suspicions could fall on Fields.

“Because I used my name for the disclosure, hard proof would exist that I had the knowledge and means to attack the network. I would have no way to prove that I was not the attacker. Then consider that, collectively, billions of dollars could have been lost as a result of this exploit. People have been killed for much less,” wrote Fields.

At the time when Bitcoin ABC announced that the vulnerability had been fixed, it was revealed that a reward would be given to the then-anonymous tipster once they went public. In his blog post, Fields did not disclose whether he has claimed the reward.

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Bitcoin Core Developer Reveals ‘Critical’ Bug in Bitcoin Cash

Cryptocurrency industry and community figures are reacting after it emerged a Bitcoin Core developer fixed a “critical” bug in the code for the Bitcoin Cash hard fork.


Fields: Bug ‘Would Have Split’ Chain

In a blog post August 10th, Corey Fields relates how in April 2018 he anonymously reported the consensus bug, known as SIGHASH_BUG.

A so-called ‘chain-splitting’ bug, the vulnerability “would have allowed a specially crafted transaction to split the Bitcoin Cash blockchain into two incompatible chains,” Fields reveals.

“Without quick action from developers and a campaign to align all participants on one side of the fork or the other, the two camps of participants will never again be able to agree,” he continues summing up the impact of the bug going unresolved.

At that point, the currency has effectively been split into two incompatible currencies — transacting as before will no longer possible.

Bitcoin Cash has long made a point of ridiculing the original Bitcoin chain – known as Bitcoin Core for clarity purposes – and those developers who work on and promote it.

Citing technical superiority, Bitcoin Cash’s major proponents Bitcoin.com owner Roger Ver and others regularly take to social media to convince the online community their altcoin will usurp Bitcoin in future.

Fields Hopes To Set Example

The irony of the news Bitcoin Cash may well have floundered without help from Bitcoin Core was therefore not lost on many of cryptocurrency’s best-known names.

“Once again Core devs had to save BCash. Play stupid games…,” commentator WhalePanda wrote, while developer Jimmy Song and economist Tuur Demeester joined those highlighting the event.

Continuing meanwhile, Fields discussed how he anonymously reported the bug to Bitcoin Cash, despite being under “no obligation” to do so.

“While trying to figure out whether a completely anonymous disclosure was possible, I began to question whether it was worth the trouble at all. I had no obligation to report anything, after all,” he explained.

But if someone had discovered an equally nasty bug in Bitcoin Core, I would hope that person would bring it to our attention as discreetly and securely as possible. So I decided to do exactly that: create the report I would want to read, and deliver it as I would want to receive it.

What do you think about Bitcoin Cash’s bug? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter